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Girl Game 

A world-famous pickup artist tried to teach single women to attract decent guys in S.F. It was harder than he thought.

Wednesday, Mar 3 2010
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Page 3 of 5

Walters, as it happens, recently fragged a PUA dating coach. He picked her up at a wine bar several weeks ago, and it wasn't until they were on their first date that he mentioned his job. After she declined a second date, she found details of their interaction posted on the Internet. Still, she's intrigued by how pickup artistry works, and has even read Neil Straus' 2005 book, The Game (essentially a bible for PUAs). "I'm not going to knock it," she said. "There's nothing wrong with using strategy to get to know someone you want to get to know. I'd just like to understand it a bit more and be on the in instead of the outside."

That was Soul's cue to explain his plan for the women. The thrust of his advice was that they should forgo aggression, and instead create a "window of opportunity" for men to initiate a connection. This can be as simple as using eye contact, body language, or, if absolutely necessary, starting a "functional" conversation. For instance, "How was your week?"

The women were sort of miffed by this. Weren't they here to learn how to approach men? Why couldn't they show off their intelligence or sense of humor right away?

Soul changed gears, and asked the women how they usually initiated interactions. "You eye-fuck them," Walters offered, and Soul asked her to describe how this works.

"You look intensely at them and try to catch their eye across the bar," she said. "If they respond, you kinda go in."

Soul approved. "Okay, eye-fuck Aaron," he said.

"I don't think that's happening," Walters said, and the circle of women roared.

Soul moved on to another way of opening a window of opportunity. Just standing near a guy can work, he said. Although he doesn't get hit on a lot, he admitted, when it does happen the woman has usually started some kind of "functional" conversation. "This isn't necessarily a woman I saw and said, 'I want that woman,'" he said. "But maybe she's pretty cute, and she's showed some interest. For a man, attraction does begin with physicality. But it doesn't end there."

He encouraged us to try out some functional lines. "Do you have the time?" Or, "Hey, are you French?" (This is good, Soul says, because a man can jump and say, "Ah, oui!")

The women were starting to catch on. And make jokes.

"How about, 'Do you have jumper cables?'" Pattee offered. "Can I have $10?" Stevenson deadpanned.

Bored with their material, the women demanded to know what lines Soul, Starlight, and Whim use. Tell the fun ones, they demanded.

After a brief hesitation, Whim admitted that when he's really feeling whimsical, he'll sometimes walk up and say, "I like salad." Pause. "With croutons." Pause. "But no anchovies." He doesn't recommend this for anything other than self-amusement.

A better one, he said, is to approach and say, "I have a rule where I have to flirt with the most attractive woman in the bar." He pauses for effect. "Can you introduce me to her?" (In PUA language, this is referred to as a "neg," or a subtle and playful stab meant to suggest to a woman that a man may not be interested.)

"Can we neg men?" I asked.

"No," he said.

Walters wanted to know whether she could use the line she had just come up with: "Hey, I'm being coached on how to pick up guys. How am I doing?"

"That's gonna make the guy really nervous," Whim said.

"Is it making you nervous?" she asked.

"He's a professional," Soul interjected.

Walters had in fact begun to notice that Whim's game expertise and Australian accent were kind of sexy. For now, though, she wanted to practice her lines. She jumped up, took off her coat, and pulled me with her on a wingwoman mission, targeting three guys in the back of the bar patio.

The men's conversation about finance trailed off as they peered up quizzically at Walters and me. "Tainted Love" came on the jukebox, which seemed totally appropriate, and she presented our line from Soul. "We were on our way out, but you guys look ... interesting," she said. "We just wanted to come say hello and introduce ourselves."

Though a bit weirded out, the guys offered us seats, and even asked if we'd like beers.

That was easy.

The conversation meandered from North Face apparel to Mad Men to the Carolina-Duke basketball game, and finally the men asked us what we were doing that night. We said we were part of, um, a seminar. "We're learning how to pick up men," Walters announced, seizing her opportunity. "How are we doing?"

Looking a little taken aback, the men said we'd done well, and that it was refreshing to have women come to them. But they weren't entirely impressed. "You focused a lot of your attention on him," one said, indicating his friend. "It was a little aggressive." Another awarded us a B-plus.

We left the Tipsy Pig without getting any numbers.


Starting with the publication of The Game, the seduction community grew into a full-blown pop-culture movement. PUA all-stars like "Mystery" (Erik Von Markovik), who starred in his own VH1 reality series, The Pick-Up Artist, started to attract a huge online following.

Gurus like Mystery and even rising stars like Soul routinely get recognized on the street (during the men's workshop in San Francisco, a random guy approached Soul and insisted on getting a picture taken next to him). Soul has built his reputation to the point where desperate, adoring men will fly across the world to attend his $1,500, eight-hour seminars.

About The Author

Ashley Harrell

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